During my last blog brain storming session, I was trying to think of a financial subject that I had not written about before. Several things came to mind, but the emotional subject of money and marriage stuck in my mind!
Most of us hope that when we find that right someone, we’ll fall in love, have nice wedding and live happily ever after. For those of us that have been married more than year, that’s not how it goes. One of the most polarizing arguments that married couples can have is about….money.
I see these mistakes with newlyweds as well as couples that have been married for many years. Avoid these marital money mistakes, just like you do your in-laws!
1. Keeping financial secrets. This one is number one for a reason. It doesn’t matter if it is secret credit card debt (probably the most common mistake), or a little windfall that you just don’t share with your other half. This is a recipe for long-term resentment and marital strife. Marriage is a partnership just like in a business, both partners need to know where the marriage stands financially at all times. So if you have a little secret, it’s better to fess up as soon as possible.
2. Assuming you have to share everything financially. This is the flip side of keeping financial secrets. Money should be pooled in a marriage. That’s not to say that each spouse couldn’t have a separate account and take care of separate bills. I’ve seen couples make this work. Pooled accounts make it easier to account for where the money is going and how money is being spent. Just find a way that works for both of you.
3. Undefined goals. Let’s face it, we all have different goals. My wife and I don’t always agree to the way we should spend money. We do sit down and share ideas about how to spend money, especially when it is a large purchase. She has a very different way of looking at money issues since she doesn’t do investments for a living like I do. I am a big advocate of having a written financial plan. It’s paramount that you at least agree on a set of simple financial goals at all times. Talk to each other!
4. Enabling each other’s poor money choices. It’s hard to break bad marital money habits, especially if there is impulse spending going on. You have to practice being accountable to each other. Each partner has to be the voice of reason. There’s no hard and fast rule at my house, my wife and I just discuss purchases that are over several hundred dollars every time. Consider it a checks and balances system. By doing this it will prevent you both from making dumb martial money mistakes.
5. Not planning ahead. I’m a big on planning. I’m even bigger on having an emergency fund or cash reserves as I like to call it, before doing any investing. Having this simple little account will not only bail your marital butt out of an emergency, but it will relieve marital stress when it happens. Recently my hot water heater just went bad. (I’m still really mad about this!) I had put aside the money just in case we had an issue like this. Viola! No stress. If you are planning on traveling or sitting on a Florida beach in your golden years together, it might make some sense to save now, right?
Couples can save themselves tons of problems by heading this advice. Hey, I’m no perfect spouse myself. My wife and I don’t always agree on money either, but what we do well is communicate. Talking and sharing your feelings about money and financial goals will make you closer as a couple. If you want to do a little marital financial planning, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me at (859) 225-2596.